Thousands of Gaza Construction Workers Allowed Into Israel

November 26, 2014  

It was announced on Wednesday that the quota for Arab construction workers allowed to work in sovereign Israeli territory is being raised with 8,000 additional workers – and for the first time in a long time, Arab workers from the Hamas-stronghold of Gaza will also be allowed in.

Currently 86,000 workers are employed in Israel’s construction department with 78% of them Israeli citizens, Netanel Lapidot, Advisor to the Ministry of Construction and Housing’s General Director, told the Knesset’s Committee on Foreign Workers headed by MK Michal Rozin (Meretz).

“Due to the shortage of roughly ten thousand workers in the construction department, the quota of Palestinian workers allowed to work in Israel was raised an additional 8,000 workers, in addition to the 37,000 of the existing quota,” said Lapidot.

According to Lt. Col. Yair Maman, head of the economic branch of the Defense Ministry, the total Arab worker quota in Israel currently is 57,000, with another 25,756 employed in Judea and Samaria. The workers include not only those in construction, but also agriculture, industry and other fields.

Additionally there are around 34,000 Arab workers illegally in Israeli sovereign territory, meaning roughly 100,000 Arab laborers are employed in the Jewish state all in all.

The call for Arab workers from Gaza will raise concerns for many, particularly as Arab terrorists in several high profile attacks have used their position of employment to murder Jews. Just this Wednesday police lifted a gag order, acknowledging the death of Jewish construction worker Netanel Arami hy”d was in fact a terrorist attack in which his Arab co-workers murdered him.

However other questions were troubling MK Rozin, who in the committee debate asked for clarification on questions such as “what is the role of the Defense Ministry other than to give permits? Who is taking care of fairness for the workers and the employers? Who is taking care of the rights of their workers? Where can they go to complain?”

In response to a request to lower the age for Arab workers allowed to work in Israel from 24 to 23, Maman said: “once we only allowed entry to 30-year-olds. …Those deciding it are the Shabak (Israel Security Agency). …We are constantly fighting to lower the age.”

Rozin acknowledged, but essentially shrugged off the security concerns over allowing Palestinians from Gaza in, saying “unfortunately terror has no laws. It always surprises. That’s the nature of terror.”

Another request was made in the meeting to allow Palestinian workers to be given permits to drive tractors, permits that are currently not given due to the frequent use of the heavy equipment to attack Israelis, as evidenced in a lethal tractor attack this August during Operation Protective Edge.

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